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article imageWatch ISS astronaut play bagpipes to honor deceased scientist

By Anne Sewell     Nov 15, 2015 in Science
Kjell Lindgren is an American astronaut currently up on the International Space Station. He honored a deceased colleague recently by playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes in zero gravity.
Lindgren was paying tribute to scientist and researcher Victor Hurst of Wyle Science after he died suddenly in October this year, aged 48.
According to Tech Times, Hurst’s sudden death was a shock to both family and colleagues and according to Lindgren he and the six other astronauts currently on the International Space Station had known or worked with him at some stage of their career. Reportedly Lindgren trained under Hurst when preparing for his own space flights.
Lindgren described Hurst as being kind and always having a quick smile and said he doesn’t know anyone who was “more enthusiastic and professional about being involved in human space flight.”
American astronaut Kjell Lindgren played  Amazing Grace  on bagpipes on the ISS as a tribute to a de...
American astronaut Kjell Lindgren played "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes on the ISS as a tribute to a deceased colleague.
In what is believed to be the first time bagpipes have been played in space, 250 miles above the Earth, Lindgren gave a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” on a set of special, custom-made bagpipes.
Reportedly the bagpipes were made for Lindgren by McCallum Bagpipes in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Speaking on behalf of McCallum Bagpipes, Kenny MacLeod said Lindgren had contacted them back in 2013 to ask if it was possible for the company to make bagpipes that could be played in space.
As reported by the Mirror, Lindgren wasn’t sure it was possible to make what he really wanted, but the company went ahead and custom-made them to his requirements.
According to MacLeod, Lindgren’s bagpipes are made of plastic, which makes them easier to keep clean and to not get contaminated. He added they are also lighter than the normal bagpipes.
He did say that playing the bagpipes in space must have been a challenge for Lindgren as the instrument is famously difficult to play in higher altitudes. According to MacLeod, the astronaut would have had to punch the bag to keep the air flowing, something pipers do normally with their bags, but with far more force in the zero gravity environment on the ISS.
"They're quite hard to blow so he's done well."
Reportedly Lindgren’s tribute on the bagpipes has also become part of TIME’s “A Year in Space Series,” a documentary made to record the one-year stay by astronauts on the ISS, including NASA’s Scott Kelly. The team of astronauts are part of an experiment to study how man can handle staying in space on a long term basis.
Lindgren is an American, but spent most of his childhood in the UK and was selected in June 2009 as a member of the NASA Astronaut Group 20. It was on July 22 this year that the astronaut joined the ISS as part of Expedition 44/45, leaving behind his wife and three children.
Listen to the dulcet tones of Lindgren playing "Amazing Grace" in the video below.
More about Iss, International Space Station, Bagpipes, Amazing Grace, Zero gravity
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